All The Suspects Are Dead Anyway

So earlier this week, police in Hollywood, Florida closed the Adam Walsh case. 27 years after the six-year-old was abducted from a shopping mall and murdered (though only his head was found, a couple of weeks after the kidnapping), which eventually transformed his father John into a criminal justice advocate and TV host, police claim that the killer was their primary suspect all along, Ottis Toole:

[Police] declined to be specific about their evidence and did not note
any DNA proof of the crime, but said an extensive review of the case
file pointed only to Toole, as John Walsh long contended.

agency has devoted an inordinate amount of time seeking leads to other
potential perpetrators rather than emphasizing Ottis Toole as our
primary suspect," said Hollywood Police Chief Chadwick Wagner, who
launched a fresh review of the case after taking over the department
last year. "Ottis Toole has continued to be our only real suspect."

had twice confessed to killing the child, but later recanted. He
claimed responsibility for hundreds of murders, but police determined
most of the confessions were lies. Toole's niece told the boy's father,
John Walsh, her uncle confessed on his deathbed in prison that he
killed Adam.

In other words, to quote the Broward-Palm Beach-area blog The Juice, “This is either some great detective work… or it’s a police chief

eager to close an infamous, mangled, 27-year-old child abduction case.” Because the question that must be asked is: Why now? There’s no anniversary tie-in, there’s no new physical evidence, and there’s no reported information that something compelling may have happened off-camera to warrant such a definitive announcement. How, exactly, is naming the primary suspect as a killer “closure” when there’s more than a speck of doubt someone else could have done it?

As for that someone else, I have my qualms about Jeffrey Dahmer as a viable suspect, but they are the same doubts I have about Toole: neither struck me as likely candidates to murder little children. But both were situational opportunists whose victims did not adhere to narrow categories (though Dahmer did not kill women.) And it seems odd that Hollywood police would ignore evidence, even though circumstantial, that raises some degree of doubt on what might have happened.

Then again, if Dahmer – or anyone else -  had been named Adam Walsh’s “official” killer, critics would be screaming that they should have considered Toole a more likely suspect. But putting a false lid doesn’t mean the case is really closed, and no matter what the Walsh family says publicly, I can’t really see them believing in the mythical beast named closure.